Navy widow outraged over promotion of commanding officer

SAN DIEGO - A Navy widow is angry after learning the commanding officer partially blamed for the accident that led to her husband's death was selected for a promotion.

"I collapsed at the door when they rang the door," recalled Theresa Jones.

In September 2013, three Navy officers showed up at her Coronado home to tell her that her husband, Lt. Cmdr. Landon Jones, was killed in a helicopter accident.

"My life as I knew it was over," she said.

In an instant, she became a single mother to sons Anthony and Hunter.

Jones' husband, a helicopter pilot, had just landed on the USS William P. Lawrence, which was out in the Red Sea. The water was rough when Jones said the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Jana Vavasseur, made an overly aggressive maneuver that sent the helicopter flailing around the deck.

Kyle McCarty, the helicopter's crew chief, and two others got out but the two pilots did not.

"I see the entire helicopter just jumping up and down, leaping. It was broken in half, chopped in half. I straighten over to look over my feet in time to see it roll over the ship and into the water," said McCarty.

The helicopter and his friends sank. Their bodies never found. McCarty's leg was crushed in the incident.

On April 28, the Navy medically discharged McCarty. His military career is over, but Vavasseur is being promoted to captain even though the Navy says she was partly responsible for the fatal accident.

McCarty and Jones are furious.

"Accident or not, we still need to be held responsible for our actions," McCarty said.

Jones said, "I don't think you should be put in charge of more lives."

Vavasseur's promotion must still be confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Jones said she has written letters to try to block her promotion.

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